The Wendy Williams Show is putting safety first. The daytime talk show announced Tuesday evening that it’s temporarily restricting access to its live studio audience for the first time ever in its 11 seasons due to coronavirus concerns.
“Wendy values her co-hosts and their daily participation, but in light of the current health climate, The Wendy Williams Show will not have a live studio audience until further notice,” a spokesperson for the series told ESSENCE in a statement.
“We will continue to produce a daily live talk show and look forward to welcoming the studio audience back when the time is right,” the spokesperson added.
For Williams, not having a studio audience may greatly impact her show. The audience is an integral part of the daily show, with Williams even calling her audience her “co-hosts” as they often chime in from their seats. And the show’s popular Ask Wendy segment has been a significant part of the interactive show’s appeal for years.
The talk show isn’t the only series taking precautions against the coronavirus. Dr. Phil is taping without a studio audience along with Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Other shows, such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show, are stepping up screening protocols for audience members.
Ciara and Mariah Carey have also been forced to reschedule upcoming shows along with the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which will now take place during two consecutive weekends in October. Meanwhile, South by Southwest has canceled its annual Austin festival indefinitely.
The professional sports world has been hit hard as well. The MLB, MLS, NBA and NHL issued a joint statement, announcing that they will be withdrawing press access to locker rooms and clubhouses due to concerns about the virus. According to The Guardian, The NBA has also instructed players to stop giving fans hi-fives and accepting items to be autographed. Preparations are also being made for games to potentially be played without audiences.
More than 116,000 cases of coronovirus have been confirmed worldwide, with 1,000 cases being confirmed in the U.S., according to the CNN.